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Latest Episodes

The Mysterious Package: Homily for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

Back around 1995 or 1996, I was teaching my 8th grade class about vocations and the different religious orders. Their assignment was to research a particular religious order and write a report to share with the class. Now this was around 1996 B.G. Before Google. There was no Internet, no search engines, no Wikipedia, no email, and so I had given them a magazine that listed addresses for all the different religious orders in the United States. They got into groups, chose a religious community, did some encyclopedia research, and then they wrote letters to these different communities asking them for information. We got all kinds of wonderful letters back. Religious communities were excited to share their stories with the students. They sent brochures and even wrote letters by hand to tell them about their daily lives. We probably received a dozen or so letters from the different communities. But one was different from the others. Rather than a regular envelope, this one was a big manila envelope and it was really thick, like a package. And it contained a wonderful surprise that had a huge impact on my life, and hopefully the lives of the students. We’ll come back to this story, and talk more about that package in a moment. But first, there’s a question at the heart of today’s gospel. “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” That’s the question that someone in the crowd asks Jesus, But what they’re really asking is, Will I be saved? In other words, they’re asking “Lord, is salvation for only a few select people, or does someone like me have a chance?” We worry about that, too, don’t we, deep down inside? Because no matter how faithful we try to be, we just don’t know. After all, we’re pretty good at fooling ourselves, at rationalizing our decisions. And the older we get, the more we come to realize just how little we really do know. I have a Family Circus cartoon that I used to hang outside my 8th grade classroom door. It shows little Billy talking to his Mom saying, “I can’t wait ’til I’m in 8th grade and know everything there is to know.” At that stage of life we do think we know everything. And then life becomes more complex, things don’t go as we thought they would, and we begin to wonder and doubt. One of the things we Christians wonder most about is Am I doing what God wants me to do? How can I tell? Am I on the right path? How many times have we started down one path, thinking that this is what God wants me to do with my life, only to realize God has something else in mind? Our Catholic history is filled with the stories of saints who started down one road, only to realize God was calling them to something else. We’re probably all familiar with that old Russian proverb, “God writes straight with crooked lines.” But even when we think we’ve figured out what we’re supposed to do here on earth, we still have our doubts. It’s a condition of the Christian life to wrestle with uncertainty and the unknown, to try and make peace with the mystery. Speaking of mystery, we need to get back to that mysterious package my students received. I suppose if I really wanted to drive home the idea that the Christian life involves uncertainty and the unknown, I wouldn’t tell you what was in that package, and you would just have to try and make peace with the mystery. But I won’t do that. The postmark on the manila envelope told us it came all the way from Kentucky, from a Trappist monastery called the Abbey of Gethsemane. The envelope was thick,

10 MINAUG 26
Comments
The Mysterious Package: Homily for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

The Persistence of Ralphie: Homily for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

Being a parent or grandparent can be really strange. And one of the strangest things about it is when the kids start to imitate you. At first its kind of funny and cute, the way you make faces at them and they try to make faces back. They dress up as mommy or daddy, pretending to do grown up things. But it’s not so funny when they start imitating your bad habits or repeating certain words. As they get older they begin to admire other people and try to imitate them. And it continues even into adulthood. We read biographies from business and political leaders trying to discover the habits and practices that make them so successful, and we try to imitate them. Well that’s what’s happening in today’s gospel reading. Jesus has gathered around him a group of disciples. We recall that the word disciple means “learner.” These are all learners. These people who are following Jesus are trying to learn what he has to teach, trying to learn how to live life the way he does. They must have...

12 MINJUL 29
Comments
The Persistence of Ralphie: Homily for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

The Cup of a Carpenter: Homily for Corpus Christi

I read recently that filming is going to begin next year on the fifth Indiana Jones movie. I guess everybody knows who Indiana Jones is, the swashbuckling archaeologist, who goes in search of artifacts like the Ark of the Covenant. Well there’s a scene in the third Indiana Jones movie, The Last Crusade, that can speak to us today as we celebrate Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ. In The Last Crusade, Indiana Jones has spent the entire movie searching for the Holy Grail, the chalice that Jesus is supposed to have used at the Last Supper. The Nazis are also searching for it, because it’s rumored to grant immortality to whoever drinks from it, and they want this powerful artifact for the war. At the end of the movie, Indiana Jones is the first one to reach the secret location where the Grail has been protected throughout the centuries by a guardian knight. But when Indiana Jones gets there, he discovers that the Grail is hiding among dozens of chalices of various shapes an...

10 MINJUN 24
Comments
The Cup of a Carpenter: Homily for Corpus Christi

Navigation Apps and Repentance: Homily for the Third Sunday of Lent – Year C

One of the most useful apps on a smart phone is the Maps app. You type in an address of the place you want to go and you’re instantly given not only written directions for how to get there, but you also get a map that shows a path for how to get to your destination. You don’t even have to know the name or even the address of a place you’re trying to get to. You can simply type in “food near me” or “shopping near me.” and you’ll get a list of places you’re looking for along with directions for how to get there. If you’re walking, you can tap the little icon of the person and you’ll get walking directions. If you’re driving, you can tap on the car icon and you’ll get driving directions. If you want to take public transportation, the apps will even tell you which bus routes to take. You can also label places that you visit frequently to make it easier to get directions. For instance, you can type in your home address and give it a label, “Home,” so that no matter where a...

-1 sMAR 25
Comments
Navigation Apps and Repentance: Homily for the Third Sunday of Lent – Year C

The Rhythm of the Spiritual Life – Homily for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

All three readings today speak of the rhythm of the spiritual life. We see it at work in the lives of Isaiah, Paul, and Peter, each in a different context, but it’s the same rhythm. It’s a rhythm of dialogue, of back and forth, like a conversation. And it begins as all things spiritual begin, with God’s initiative. God is always seeking us out, God is always trying to engage us in his divine life, and God always meets us where we are. God comes to Isaiah as a member of the royal family who has a vision. Jesus comes to Paul when he is on his way to Damascus to persecute more Christians. Jesus comes to Peter while he is on his fishing boat working. The rhythm of the spiritual life begins with God taking the initiative to seek us out in our particular walk of life. We can call this movement an encounter with the divine. The spiritual life begins with Encounter. Encounters with God have a profound effect on us. Isaiah has a deep encounter with God in a vision of the Lord on a throne ...

9 MINFEB 11
Comments
The Rhythm of the Spiritual Life – Homily for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

In the Principal’s Office: Homily from the Christmas Eve Children’s Mass 2018

Here is the audio from my homily for the Christmas Eve Children’s Mass, December 24, 2018.

8 MIN2018 DEC 26
Comments
In the Principal’s Office: Homily from the Christmas Eve Children’s Mass 2018

A Thrill of Hope: Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Advent – Year C

Once upon a time, in the early ages of the world, people believed that storms and droughts and sickness were sent by angry gods and goddesses. To the ancient people, the universe was a fearful place, a place of chaos, a place of danger, and the only way to stay safe was to offer sacrifices to try and please the gods. Ancient peoples would sacrifice a portion of the crops, they would sacrifice animals, and in some cases, they even sacrificed humans. But then came a people who learned the truth. God revealed himself to the chosen people as the one God, the only God, and made a covenant with them through Abraham: He would be their God, and they would be his people. He promised them a land flowing with milk and honey. And although the people tried to live out their part of the covenant, they often failed to do God’s will. They worshipped a golden calf while Moses was receiving the Law on Mount Sinai. They grumbled and complained as they traveled through the desert. But God remained eve...

11 MIN2018 DEC 24
Comments
A Thrill of Hope: Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Advent – Year C

Bumper Stickers and Masters: Homily for the Solemnity of Christ the King – Year B

The other day I was driving home from work, coming up Freya hill, and I noticed a bumper sticker on the car in front of me. People put bumper stickers on their cars for all kinds of reasons, but mostly because they have something to say to the world. “Vote for this or that candidate.” “Work for world peace.” “Support my kid’s school.” Well, this particular driver had a different message. It was a big, red rectangular sticker, and in white letters it read, “No Gods. No Masters.” I suppose that’s how a lot of people today view life, especially here in America. In America we’re pretty proud of the fact that we broke away from England, we cast off the monarchy. That idea has permeated our culture so much that it’s become part of the intellectual air we breathe. We do take pride in the fact that we can forge our own fate, that no one is our master. Like that line from the poem “Invictus,” “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” Our TV shows and our movi...

10 MIN2018 NOV 26
Comments
Bumper Stickers and Masters: Homily for the Solemnity of Christ the King – Year B

One Chapter a Day: Homily for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

Many of you know that Les Misérables is one of my favorite books, but it’s a long one, almost 1500 pages, so reading it takes a while. Last year I found out that it has exactly 365 chapters, so I decided that in 2018 I would read one chapter a day, starting on January 1st and going to December 31st. They’re short chapters, about 5 pages or so, and I I thought it would be kind of a meditation and exercise in patience and delayed gratification to read it so slowly. I also thought I would stay motivated if I read it with others, so I sent word out through the Internet and invited anyone to join me. So far there are almost fifty people reading it, including some of you, and some former students of mine. There are also readers from California, Texas, Illinois, New Hampshire, and even as far away as The Netherlands and Australia. And we’re all reading one chapter a day. As the book begins, the first main character is the Bishop of Digne. The first fourteen chapters describe what a goo...

12 MIN2018 JAN 22
Comments
One Chapter a Day: Homily for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

A Value Far Beyond Pearls – Homily for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

As the church year begins to wind down over the next two weeks, many of the the Scripture readings are about the end of time, when Jesus will come again. So today’s first reading may seem out of place. In the cycle of readings for Sunday, the first reading is paired with the gospel. But today’s reading from Proverbs about the worthy wife seems a bit disconnected from the gospel. Why are these two readings paired together today? Since the gospel seems to fit this time of year more appropriately, we’ll start with that and work backwards to the first reading. In the gospel Jesus tells a parable about a man who goes on a journey. Before he leaves he entrusts enormous amounts of money to his servants. The word talent that’s used is roughly equivalent to a person’s entire earnings over a lifetime. So to one servant the man gives 5 lifetimes of salary, to another he gives 2 lifetimes, and to a third he gives 1 lifetime. Jesus is using exaggeration here– these are ridiculous amounts o...

11 MIN2017 NOV 20
Comments
A Value Far Beyond Pearls – Homily for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Latest Episodes

The Mysterious Package: Homily for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

Back around 1995 or 1996, I was teaching my 8th grade class about vocations and the different religious orders. Their assignment was to research a particular religious order and write a report to share with the class. Now this was around 1996 B.G. Before Google. There was no Internet, no search engines, no Wikipedia, no email, and so I had given them a magazine that listed addresses for all the different religious orders in the United States. They got into groups, chose a religious community, did some encyclopedia research, and then they wrote letters to these different communities asking them for information. We got all kinds of wonderful letters back. Religious communities were excited to share their stories with the students. They sent brochures and even wrote letters by hand to tell them about their daily lives. We probably received a dozen or so letters from the different communities. But one was different from the others. Rather than a regular envelope, this one was a big manila envelope and it was really thick, like a package. And it contained a wonderful surprise that had a huge impact on my life, and hopefully the lives of the students. We’ll come back to this story, and talk more about that package in a moment. But first, there’s a question at the heart of today’s gospel. “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” That’s the question that someone in the crowd asks Jesus, But what they’re really asking is, Will I be saved? In other words, they’re asking “Lord, is salvation for only a few select people, or does someone like me have a chance?” We worry about that, too, don’t we, deep down inside? Because no matter how faithful we try to be, we just don’t know. After all, we’re pretty good at fooling ourselves, at rationalizing our decisions. And the older we get, the more we come to realize just how little we really do know. I have a Family Circus cartoon that I used to hang outside my 8th grade classroom door. It shows little Billy talking to his Mom saying, “I can’t wait ’til I’m in 8th grade and know everything there is to know.” At that stage of life we do think we know everything. And then life becomes more complex, things don’t go as we thought they would, and we begin to wonder and doubt. One of the things we Christians wonder most about is Am I doing what God wants me to do? How can I tell? Am I on the right path? How many times have we started down one path, thinking that this is what God wants me to do with my life, only to realize God has something else in mind? Our Catholic history is filled with the stories of saints who started down one road, only to realize God was calling them to something else. We’re probably all familiar with that old Russian proverb, “God writes straight with crooked lines.” But even when we think we’ve figured out what we’re supposed to do here on earth, we still have our doubts. It’s a condition of the Christian life to wrestle with uncertainty and the unknown, to try and make peace with the mystery. Speaking of mystery, we need to get back to that mysterious package my students received. I suppose if I really wanted to drive home the idea that the Christian life involves uncertainty and the unknown, I wouldn’t tell you what was in that package, and you would just have to try and make peace with the mystery. But I won’t do that. The postmark on the manila envelope told us it came all the way from Kentucky, from a Trappist monastery called the Abbey of Gethsemane. The envelope was thick,

10 MINAUG 26
Comments
The Mysterious Package: Homily for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

The Persistence of Ralphie: Homily for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

Being a parent or grandparent can be really strange. And one of the strangest things about it is when the kids start to imitate you. At first its kind of funny and cute, the way you make faces at them and they try to make faces back. They dress up as mommy or daddy, pretending to do grown up things. But it’s not so funny when they start imitating your bad habits or repeating certain words. As they get older they begin to admire other people and try to imitate them. And it continues even into adulthood. We read biographies from business and political leaders trying to discover the habits and practices that make them so successful, and we try to imitate them. Well that’s what’s happening in today’s gospel reading. Jesus has gathered around him a group of disciples. We recall that the word disciple means “learner.” These are all learners. These people who are following Jesus are trying to learn what he has to teach, trying to learn how to live life the way he does. They must have...

12 MINJUL 29
Comments
The Persistence of Ralphie: Homily for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

The Cup of a Carpenter: Homily for Corpus Christi

I read recently that filming is going to begin next year on the fifth Indiana Jones movie. I guess everybody knows who Indiana Jones is, the swashbuckling archaeologist, who goes in search of artifacts like the Ark of the Covenant. Well there’s a scene in the third Indiana Jones movie, The Last Crusade, that can speak to us today as we celebrate Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ. In The Last Crusade, Indiana Jones has spent the entire movie searching for the Holy Grail, the chalice that Jesus is supposed to have used at the Last Supper. The Nazis are also searching for it, because it’s rumored to grant immortality to whoever drinks from it, and they want this powerful artifact for the war. At the end of the movie, Indiana Jones is the first one to reach the secret location where the Grail has been protected throughout the centuries by a guardian knight. But when Indiana Jones gets there, he discovers that the Grail is hiding among dozens of chalices of various shapes an...

10 MINJUN 24
Comments
The Cup of a Carpenter: Homily for Corpus Christi

Navigation Apps and Repentance: Homily for the Third Sunday of Lent – Year C

One of the most useful apps on a smart phone is the Maps app. You type in an address of the place you want to go and you’re instantly given not only written directions for how to get there, but you also get a map that shows a path for how to get to your destination. You don’t even have to know the name or even the address of a place you’re trying to get to. You can simply type in “food near me” or “shopping near me.” and you’ll get a list of places you’re looking for along with directions for how to get there. If you’re walking, you can tap the little icon of the person and you’ll get walking directions. If you’re driving, you can tap on the car icon and you’ll get driving directions. If you want to take public transportation, the apps will even tell you which bus routes to take. You can also label places that you visit frequently to make it easier to get directions. For instance, you can type in your home address and give it a label, “Home,” so that no matter where a...

-1 sMAR 25
Comments
Navigation Apps and Repentance: Homily for the Third Sunday of Lent – Year C

The Rhythm of the Spiritual Life – Homily for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

All three readings today speak of the rhythm of the spiritual life. We see it at work in the lives of Isaiah, Paul, and Peter, each in a different context, but it’s the same rhythm. It’s a rhythm of dialogue, of back and forth, like a conversation. And it begins as all things spiritual begin, with God’s initiative. God is always seeking us out, God is always trying to engage us in his divine life, and God always meets us where we are. God comes to Isaiah as a member of the royal family who has a vision. Jesus comes to Paul when he is on his way to Damascus to persecute more Christians. Jesus comes to Peter while he is on his fishing boat working. The rhythm of the spiritual life begins with God taking the initiative to seek us out in our particular walk of life. We can call this movement an encounter with the divine. The spiritual life begins with Encounter. Encounters with God have a profound effect on us. Isaiah has a deep encounter with God in a vision of the Lord on a throne ...

9 MINFEB 11
Comments
The Rhythm of the Spiritual Life – Homily for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C

In the Principal’s Office: Homily from the Christmas Eve Children’s Mass 2018

Here is the audio from my homily for the Christmas Eve Children’s Mass, December 24, 2018.

8 MIN2018 DEC 26
Comments
In the Principal’s Office: Homily from the Christmas Eve Children’s Mass 2018

A Thrill of Hope: Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Advent – Year C

Once upon a time, in the early ages of the world, people believed that storms and droughts and sickness were sent by angry gods and goddesses. To the ancient people, the universe was a fearful place, a place of chaos, a place of danger, and the only way to stay safe was to offer sacrifices to try and please the gods. Ancient peoples would sacrifice a portion of the crops, they would sacrifice animals, and in some cases, they even sacrificed humans. But then came a people who learned the truth. God revealed himself to the chosen people as the one God, the only God, and made a covenant with them through Abraham: He would be their God, and they would be his people. He promised them a land flowing with milk and honey. And although the people tried to live out their part of the covenant, they often failed to do God’s will. They worshipped a golden calf while Moses was receiving the Law on Mount Sinai. They grumbled and complained as they traveled through the desert. But God remained eve...

11 MIN2018 DEC 24
Comments
A Thrill of Hope: Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Advent – Year C

Bumper Stickers and Masters: Homily for the Solemnity of Christ the King – Year B

The other day I was driving home from work, coming up Freya hill, and I noticed a bumper sticker on the car in front of me. People put bumper stickers on their cars for all kinds of reasons, but mostly because they have something to say to the world. “Vote for this or that candidate.” “Work for world peace.” “Support my kid’s school.” Well, this particular driver had a different message. It was a big, red rectangular sticker, and in white letters it read, “No Gods. No Masters.” I suppose that’s how a lot of people today view life, especially here in America. In America we’re pretty proud of the fact that we broke away from England, we cast off the monarchy. That idea has permeated our culture so much that it’s become part of the intellectual air we breathe. We do take pride in the fact that we can forge our own fate, that no one is our master. Like that line from the poem “Invictus,” “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” Our TV shows and our movi...

10 MIN2018 NOV 26
Comments
Bumper Stickers and Masters: Homily for the Solemnity of Christ the King – Year B

One Chapter a Day: Homily for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

Many of you know that Les Misérables is one of my favorite books, but it’s a long one, almost 1500 pages, so reading it takes a while. Last year I found out that it has exactly 365 chapters, so I decided that in 2018 I would read one chapter a day, starting on January 1st and going to December 31st. They’re short chapters, about 5 pages or so, and I I thought it would be kind of a meditation and exercise in patience and delayed gratification to read it so slowly. I also thought I would stay motivated if I read it with others, so I sent word out through the Internet and invited anyone to join me. So far there are almost fifty people reading it, including some of you, and some former students of mine. There are also readers from California, Texas, Illinois, New Hampshire, and even as far away as The Netherlands and Australia. And we’re all reading one chapter a day. As the book begins, the first main character is the Bishop of Digne. The first fourteen chapters describe what a goo...

12 MIN2018 JAN 22
Comments
One Chapter a Day: Homily for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

A Value Far Beyond Pearls – Homily for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

As the church year begins to wind down over the next two weeks, many of the the Scripture readings are about the end of time, when Jesus will come again. So today’s first reading may seem out of place. In the cycle of readings for Sunday, the first reading is paired with the gospel. But today’s reading from Proverbs about the worthy wife seems a bit disconnected from the gospel. Why are these two readings paired together today? Since the gospel seems to fit this time of year more appropriately, we’ll start with that and work backwards to the first reading. In the gospel Jesus tells a parable about a man who goes on a journey. Before he leaves he entrusts enormous amounts of money to his servants. The word talent that’s used is roughly equivalent to a person’s entire earnings over a lifetime. So to one servant the man gives 5 lifetimes of salary, to another he gives 2 lifetimes, and to a third he gives 1 lifetime. Jesus is using exaggeration here– these are ridiculous amounts o...

11 MIN2017 NOV 20
Comments
A Value Far Beyond Pearls – Homily for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time